In a sign of just how tough the ACC is this season, No. 3 Duke looks to avoid an 0-2 start to conference play when it hosts 25th-ranked Florida State on Saturday. It’s the conference opener for the Seminoles, who are set to face ranked opponents in their first three ACC contests.
The Blue Devils were stunned 89-84 at Boston College in their ACC opener on Dec. 9 but bounced back to thrash Evansville 104-40 on Dec. 20. The Seminoles have won 11 of their first 12 games for the fifth time in team history – and the second season in a row. They’re coming off a 98-45 rout of Southern Mississippi on Dec. 21 and have won two straight since suffering a one-point loss to Oklahoma State. The Blue Devils have won 20 of 22 home meetings with the Seminoles, including a 75-70 victory in the most recent matchup in February.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (11-1, 0-0 ACC): The Seminoles have had seven different players lead them in scoring through 12 games, as five average at least 9.5 points. Guards Terance Mann (15.1 points, six rebounds) and Braian Angola (11.7 points) and 6-8 forward Phil Cofer (13.4, 5.5 rebounds) are the only players averaging double digit in points, but the Seminoles usually don’t need to light up the scoreboard. Florida State ranks sixth in the nation in field-goal defense (36.9 percent) and 14th in 3-point defense (28.8 percent).
ABOUT DUKE (12-1, 0-1): The Blue Devils possess the second-highest scoring average in the nation at 94.2 points and lead the country in rebound margin (plus-12.8). Senior guard Grayson Allen (17.1 points, 4.3 assists) is surrounded by four freshmen in the starting lineup, with forward Marvin Bagley III (21.1 points, 10.9 rebounds) leading the way. Wendell Carter Jr. (13.7 points, 8.4 rebounds) teams with Bagley to form a dominant frontcourt, while rookie guards Gary Trent Jr. (13 points) and Trevon Duval (11.7, 6.8 rebounds) also average double digits in points.
1. Duke has won 10 straight ACC home openers and has dropped its first conference game at home only once since 1995-96.
2. Florida State has registered 39 wins over ranked teams under coach Leonard Hamilton, including seven victories over ranked Duke teams.
3. The Blue Devils have allowed only 15 fast-break points over their past five games.
PREDICTION: Duke 81, Florida State 74